Fighting so hard to get a little justice

Posted on August 24, 2008 in Debates, Governance Debates – Opinion/letter – Fighting so hard to get a little justice
August 24, 2008

Re:Make poverty reduction a priority; The high cost of low wages, Comment, Aug. 22

The articles by Peter Graefe and John Cartwright highlight the need for action in terms of poverty reduction. It is outrageous that in the wealthiest city in Canada so many working people live in poverty. Unfortunately, it seems that the Liberals have no sense of urgency on this question.

Cartwright raises the Justice for Janitors campaign’s attempts to raise standards for workers in that industry. Star readers would be shocked to hear the stories about the workers who clean their offices.

Many cleaning companies engage in elaborate subcontracting schemes that end up denying workers basic protections and, in some cases, no vacation pay and workers being paid below minimum wage.

But it isn’t just the cleaning companies. The property owners and managers have to take responsibility, too. They award the contracts and should also be held responsible for the conditions of cleaners in their buildings. Despite complaints to the Ministry of Labour, no action ever seems to be taken.

Fortunately, thousands of these workers have stood up for their rights and joined Justice for Janitors. It is a shame, however, that they have to fight so hard just to get a little justice with no help from a premier who campaigned about fighting poverty.

Ritch Whyman, Toronto

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